Lumbini Chief Minister Pokhrel resigns to dodge no-confidence motionWith resignation accepted, Pokhrel now set to seek to form a new government under his leadership without the backing of any other party.
Lumbini Chief Minister Shankar Pokhrel, a close confidante of CPN-UML chair and Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli, resigned on Sunday morning to dodge a no-confidence motion against him and stake claim to a government under his leadership without the support of any other party.
His resignation was approved almost immediately by Lumbini Provincial Chief Dharma Nath Yadav.
“The Office of the Provincial Chief has already approved Chief Minister Pokhrel’s resignation,” Chiranjibi Poudel, personal secretary of the Provincial Chief Yadav and spokesperson at the chief’s office, told the Post over phone. “A notice regarding approving Pokhrel’s resignation has already been issued.”
A press statement issued by the Office of the Provincial Chief said Provincial Chief Dharma Nath Yadav has accepted the resignation of Chief Minister Shankar Pokhrel as per Article 169 (1) (a) and asked Pokhrel to lead the existing Council of Ministers until a new arrangement is made as per the constitution.
Pokhrel now is set to seek to form government under his leadership as per Article 168 (1) of the constitution, which says: “The provincial chief shall appoint the leader of the Parliamentary Party commanding a majority in the Provincial Assembly as the chief minister, and the Provincial Council of Ministers shall be constituted under his or her chairpersonship.”
He was elected chief minister in 2018 as per Article 168 (2) of the constitution, with the backing of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre).
The 87-member Provincial Assembly currently has only 81 members, as two Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) members and four Janata Samajbadi Party members remain suspended.
Pokhrel’s CPN-UML party had won 41 seats in the 2017 elections. A couple of members are said to be with the Madhav Nepal faction.
In the 2017 elections, the Nepali Congress had won 19 seats, Maoist Centre 20, Janata Samajbadi six and Rastriya Janamorcha one seat.
With two members suspended and one member elected Provincial Assembly Speaker, the Maoist Centre currently has 17 seats.
On April 19, 41 members of the Provincial Assembly–19 of the Nepali Congress, 17 of the Communist Party of Nepal (Maoist Centre) and five Janata Samajbadi Party–had registered a no-confidence motion against Pokhrel. They had also demanded a special session of the Provincial Assembly. But hours after the motion was registered, Pokhrel had inducted four Janata Samajbadi Party members into Cabinet. Of the four members inducted as ministers, three had signed the no-confidence motion.
As demanded by the opposition parties, the Provincial Assembly was set to convene a special session where the no-confidence motion would have been tabled.
Had Pokhrel not resigned, the Madhav Nepal faction was expected to have crossed the floor during the voting on the no-confidence motion, thereby leading to the fall of his government.
Pokhrel, however, seems to have pulled off a coup by tendering his resignation, which helped him avoid the no-confidence motion.
“For now the game is over. Pokhrel will form a new government under 168 (1) and his government will remain unless a situation arises for him to prove his majority in the assembly,” said Khimlal Devkota, a central committee member of the Maoist Centre who is also an advocate.